So you’ve committed to the idea of getting fit and healthy and now you’re trying to figure out when in your busy day you can carve out some time. A question I hear often is… Is there a best time of day to exercise? And this is usually followed by… “ Because I’m really not a morning person…”. My response to this question typically startles the person asking because I’m unequivocal – there’s absolutely a best time to exercise. The best time to exercise is whenever you can.
So let’s unravel this a little, because you’ve probably heard that mornings are better than evenings or vice versa. In truth, there’s quite a bit of science out there supporting both sides of the debate. There are physiological pros and cons to both, just as there are personal limiters. And at the end of the day, the one thing that should be driving your decision is you.
When you’re trying to choose a time of day to exercise pay attention to your body clock (also known as your circadian rhythm). Your body clock regulates many of you physiological processes telling you when to sleep, when to rise, when to eat, etc… And when your ‘rhythm’ gets out of whack, bad things happen. So… if your circadian rhythm is set to o-dark-thirty, then you’re a morning person and you’re likely to choose to get your exercise done early. If you’re a night owl who routinely sees midnight– you guessed it – evening workouts are for you.
Need hard facts about why either time is good? Here you go: For you early risers: 1) if you exercise in the morning you tend to be more consistent – there are fewer ‘outside’ distractions (outside of the snooze button) to keep you from your workout; 2) if work out early you are more likely to start your day off with a healthy breakfast and lots of water and you‘re more apt to making healthy choices throughout the day; 3) and morning workouts may help improve sleep, increase brain function and memory recall.
There are also benefits to working out in the afternoon or evenings: 1) for some a later afternoon or evening work out is a great way to burn off stress from the day; 2) if you feel like you have more energy later in the day there’s a reason – your core body temperature is higher, reaction time is quicker, blood pressure is lower (well… unless you had a rough day, then see #1) and 3) your body is at peak strength in the evening hours.
At Fitness on the Run, we have morning classes that can help you get your day started off on the right foot. Or, if you aren’t a morning person and need something to help you wind down from a long day – try one of our evening classes.